Thursday, July 28, 2016
Top is Mount Hood and downtown Portland Oregon from the viewpoint of Portland Japanese Garden in 2012. The trees are taller now so one can't see as much of Portland.
Middle is looking east at the Columbia Gorge and the Columbia River from Vista Point. On the left is Washington and the right is Oregon. This was November 2013. Honestly could imagine Lewis and Clark and company paddling their boats down there. Love how undeveloped it still is.
Bottom is the beautiful Multnomah Falls. I definitely recommend going there if you ever visit the Portland area. Taken in July 2012.
Thursday, April 7, 2016
Friday, February 19, 2016
If I was to give a word for what is happening with the Portland food scene, it would be "transitions". Restaurants closing, opening, moving to new locations, spaces being taken over.
For the Japanese happening dining spot Nodoguro it meant trying to find a new place since their prior location was going to be next to Powell Books latest expansion. Luckily a new multipurpose dining space opened just in time to be a temporary home.
The new space is Han Oak, which will not only host different chefs but also have price fix Korean dinners. Peter Cho and Joe of Han Oak were present for the inaugural Nodoguro dinner at the beginning of February.
It's a really nice space open with very high ceilings. A few fixes still needed but overall it's a comfortable dining area. It was a bit dark at table level which is why my photos look dark. We were dining by the light of the moon, or candle light.
The menu for the night. No visual theme, just what looks like a simple menu with a home cooked meal comfort food concept.
Before food was served Sous Chef Colin Yoshimoto offered diners a cup of Dewatsuruu kimooto junmai sake. Kimoto refers to brewing sake in the oldest style, mixing the yeast mash for a period of time creating the moto which is used to brew sake.
Slight yellow color, sweet, smooth and dry. This was from Chef Ryan Roadhouse's personal stock. Turns out there was no drink pairing for the evening since this was a new place. It was suggested that diners bring their own if they wished to drink during dinner.
On to the food! First up was Albacore sashimi with ponzu, Jacobsen salt, and a touch of wasabi. Sublime of course.
Second course was this delicious Eggplant in dashi with winter greens and ginger. Diners couldn't get enough and were caught sipping the salty dashi.
Third course was Taro with Saikyo miso, yuzu, and topped with water cress. A simple looking dish with lots of flavor.
Following that was tender Octopus with kelp, buttered potatoes, crispy ginger. The green dots were Kombu puree topped with crispy ginger that diners loved.
Because I was distracted by this lovely wine I missed taking a photo of the Acorn Squash flavored with curry and yuzu dressed with cranberries. Which was too bad because it was delicious. The cranberries added just the right bit of sour sweet flavor and totally complimented the acorn squash that was splashed with curry flavor and yuzu. As for the wine, it is from The Four Graces winery in Dundee Hills, Oregon. This lovely pinot noir was an excellent choice for this dinner with a deeper flavor of fruit and hints of cocoa. The lovely ladies sitting next to me offered me a glass which I could not turn down.
Nodoguro's take on a Winter Nabe. Salad or sunomono of leek, dungeness crab, egg, watermelon radish, wakame with a aromatic smoky taste. This would be a combination dish using typical nabe or Japanese hot pot ingredients dressed as sunomono.
Mackerel perched on top of poached daikon topped with umboshi puree, ginger blossom and green onion was next. Each time Chef Roadhouse serves mackerel is better than the last and the umboshi puree was perfect in intensity to match the flavor of the fish.
A few days before this dinner I was thinking about Salmon Oyakodon. Usually Oyakodon (parent and child) is made with chicken and chicken egg but I had a craving for a salmon version of the dish. I almost tweeted Chef Roadhouse asking him if he ever made this dish. So it was a happy surprise to see this on the menu! Cured sockeye salmon with Chef Roadhouse's special ikura salmon roe on rice with shiso, sesame, aged shoyu and a bit of wasabi.
Of course there was Chef Roadhouse's delicious Tamago yaki.
We ended with Chocolate, soba and citrus. Chocolate mousse infused with mandarin orange with coconut granola with crispy cracker roof. I broke up the cracker to eat it with the mousse which I recommend doing to get full enjoyment of the lovely flavors of this dish. As for this dinner, I would eat it all again. Thanks for the lovely meal Chef Roadhouse! And congratulations to the two time James Beard Awards semi-finalist!
So what is up with Nodoguro? For March they will still be at Han Oak. Reservations still should be made by purchasing tickets at the Nodoguro website when they are available. You can find out when by joining their email list or following Nodoguro on Twitter.
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
There is still time to get something sweet for the holidays, or if you are like me, whenever the need arises. So I've put together a list of bakeries and pastry shops that are located west of that food city called Portland, Oregon. First up is a bakery I've enjoyed this year, Decadent Creations.
It's been fun trying a number of different cookies and sweets from Decadent Creations. Both the salted chocolate chip cookies and salty dog brownies are favorites. They are also known for creating beautiful and fun cakes. I definitely recommend the macarons too. Carmel corn, pumpkin spice and pecan pie were around for November and December flavors include peppermint, gingerbread and my favorite cranberry orange which is great with a cup of tea. In warmer weather Decadent Creations can be found at many of the local farmers markets. With the colder weather Mindy Simmons has opened up her kitchen on Fridays for pick-ups and purchases. Hopefully it won't be too long before their shop in Hillsboro will open in 2016. Information about ordering and their open kitchen can be found at their website: http://www.decadentcreations.com/
While Farina Bakery is actually located in SE Portland, we are lucky that the Beaverton Town Square Moonstruck Chocolate Cafe carries their delicious pastries and cookies. I'm a dedicated macaron fan of theirs and always checking out the latest flavors like candy cane, gingerbread and Mexican hot chocolate which had a bit of spice to it! While they don't stock a lot of product there are always some cookies, brownies or other treats there. Farina Bakery's website is http://farinabakery.com/ and the address for the Moonstruck Chocolate Cafe is 11705 Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy, Beaverton, OR 97005.
A new bakery in the area isn't that new. Grand Central Bakery has opened a shop and it's very popular. While their focus is bread and offering soup, salads and sandwiches in the shop, they do have pie, muffins and cookies like peppermint crunch shortbread, fig rugelach, and cocoa nib shortbread. Grand Central Bakery's website is http://grandcentralbakery.com/ and the new bakery is located at 12595 NW Cornell Road, Portland, OR 97229, just north of Beaverton.
I keep forgetting there is another good place to get macarons in the area. La Provence Boulangerie & Patisserie at Progress Ridge. While it's a busy restaurant there they also sell their pastries to walk in customers. I've enjoyed their macarons which included these chocolate covered ones I found at Petite Provence at PDX Airport. La Provence Boulangerie & Patisserie website is http://provencepdx.com/ and the Progress Ridge address is 15151 SW Barrows Rd, #153, Beaverton, OR 97007.
If you are at the far west side of Washington County you are in luck because Sugar Momma's Bake Shop is there. Known for amazing custom cakes and more, there is always something delicious to be found there. I really enjoyed this boston cream cupcake and other goodies they make. Not only that but you can get hearty breakfasts there. Sugar Momma's Bake Shop website is http://sugarmommasbakeshop.com/ and they are located at 1714 Pacific Ave, Forest Grove, OR 97116.
Of course there is the bakery with a 90 year history. Beaverton Bakery is well known for their cakes, cookies and more. I've enjoyed a few treats from there including this berry tart. They have baked up a lot of holiday cookies, fruit cakes and more for the holidays. Beaverton Bakery's website is http://beavertonbakery.com/ and they are located at 12375 SW Broadway Beaverton, OR 97005.
If you are looking for something different, here are three other popular places to buy pastries and more.
The Dessert Tray, http://www.thedesserttray.com/default.html, has traditional along with some vegan pastries and desserts. They are a smaller shop that has some items available at their counter and more for ordering. They are located at 11950 SW Broadway St. Beaverton, OR 97005.
Karam Lebanese Deli not only has Middle Eastern food but also sweets and pastries like baklava along with more traditional desserts. I've enjoyed a few of their offerings. Their website is http://lebanesedelikaram.com/ and they are located at 2800 Southwest Cedar Hills Boulevard, Beaverton, OR 97005.
This last place I have not visited but it's very popular. La Espiga Dorada is known as the place to get Mexican pastries. I could not find a website but they are located at 18350 SW Tualatin Valley Hwy, Beaverton, OR 97006.
I know there are more out there. If you have any recommendations of places to be added please feel free to comment.
Monday, December 21, 2015
I wasn't expecting there would be a second part to my Holiday Tea Tasting at Steven Smith Teamkers blog post but when they announced tastings for the new Maker's Series tea created by Chef Gregory Gourdet along with their seasonal Irish Moringa Latte I had to go. Not only that but the tastings were offered in their Northwest Portland location and the new Southeast building which is pictured above.
The space inside is really nice. Larger than the Northwest tasting room it still offers places to sit that are out of way along with seats by a fireplace. Definitely a pleasant way to unwind with a cup.
They have many of their teas for sale including limited ones.
Along with tea pots, cups and growlettes.
At the other end of the space is this room where you can see tea makers creating and tasting teas.
Lots of space in between with a long counter which faces the packaging room. I'm sure it's fun to watch when they are in full swing. Amusing too they note the traffic conditions in Darjeeling.
I love seeing what goes into each tea along with smelling them so had to snap a shot of this display on their counter. The counter is a really nice addition. It gives lots of room for tasting events and gives you the chance to experience the tea making process with the packing room and watching the tea makers brew up your tea or latte.
On to the teas that were sampled. First was a cup of Chef Gourdet's Phuket Fire. I like that they displayed all the ingredients in this one. Very colorful! The taste of the tea was also as complex. It started with citrus which makes sense since there is lime infused pineapple and kefir lime leaves in this. Under this was a bit of chili and ginger. I could feel the heat from this in the back of my mouth but it was not overwhelming. Finally there was the flavor of hibiscus which you can tell by the color of the brewed tea. It made me think of teas that are enjoyed in Southeast Asia. Since there are no tea leaves in this it's caffeine free. I think people who love spicy food would really enjoy this tea. It's definitely in the style of Chef Gourdet's food, surprising and complex. Nicely done.
The second tea for the tasting was their Irish Moringa Latte. Amazing to smell this since it's placed in a whiskey barrel when it's made and then rolled around to mix the tea leaves without crushing them. Lovely rich scent with the whiskey present in a good way.
And here's where the counter is great. Not just because large groups can try tea there (along with a long table also in the room) but because you can watch and learn how they put together what you will be drinking. Also good for asking questions like if other milks could be used for this latte. I learned that since they fire the sugar on top only whole milk works since others break down.
Next came the brown sugar sprinkled on top. It was great how the really nice employees explained each step.
Last step was firing up the tops of the lattes.
I hope you can see in the photo the bubbles forming as each latte is torched. I should have made a video of this. Next time.
And even though I'm lactose intolerant I still tried this lovely concoction. Really delicious latte with delicate flavors that accent the creaminess of this drink. Even though the tea looked very dark it is caffeine free. They use Moringa leaf which is considered herbal. Along with that is orange peel, sarsaparilla, vanilla bean and star anise. Not only do they sell the tea but they also are serving this latte for a limited time at both tasting rooms. If you like lattes this is worth stopping in for.
There are two other limited seasonal black box loose leaf teas. I did not get to try them but I was able to sniff the tea leaf mix. The Mulled Black is everything you would expect from a mulled tea with cranberries and hazelnuts. This was made in an aquavit barrel. The third tea is their White Chrysmas tea. The smell was enchanting and I am still thinking of it. Definitely delicate. This is a blend of white tea leaves from Yunnan placed in a rum barrel and then afterwards mixed with chrysanthemum petals. Along with the Moringa and Phuket Fire these are available on the Smith Teamaker website for a short time and at the tasting rooms.
So my impression of the new space is very good. It's a nicely designed space with lots of room for larger parties yet also has seating that feels more intimate. They have many teas for tastings, enjoying a cup or even getting some to go. They also serve lattes including the ones I mentioned in my last tasting post. Here's Smith Teamaker's website where you can find information about the tasting rooms, check out their teas and learn more.
The new Steven Smith Teamaker Tasting Room is located at 110 SE Washington St., Portland, Oregon. You can park in the "Loading" spots in front of the building.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
I've stopped in at Smith Teamaker North West Portland tasting room a few times in the past. Here is my post about enjoying a tea flight there. So when they announced in November they would be having a tasting of a couple of their Holiday Season teas I jumped at the chance to go.
They were brewing up four different teas that day. The first was one of two holiday teas, Morning Light. It's a black tea combination of Ceylons and North Indian Assam. What makes this stand out is a tiny bit of Northwest Douglas Fir needles. Trust me, this doesn't taste like you are drinking a tree. It's a lovely black tea with a hint of resin that reminded me of rosemary. Douglas Fir needles are actually good for you and it's fun to see them used in cooking and in this tea.
They were also serving up tastings of two lattes which are being sold as gift sets. The first we tasted was their Bungalow Darjeeling tea mixed with Recchiuti Burnt Caramel Sauce. Really unique and enjoyable way of sweetening tea.
We were also given recipe cards because the BF bought a set to take home. He really likes lattes and chai tea and totally enjoyed Smith Teamaker's take on this.
Next up was the reason I went to this tasting. Silent Night. This is the second of the Holiday Teas and not only are the sachets of Silent Night really pretty but they smell wonderful! Now Smith Teamaker sells peppermint tea year round but this version adds cinnamon, ginger and sweet licorice. I ended up getting two cans for myself since besides the great taste I know peppermint and the other ingredients are helpful with digestion. I'd love it if this tea was available all year long.
The last tea we tasted was their Chocolate Peppermint latte. This is their Peppermint Leaves tea mixed with Recchiuti Extra-Bitter Chocolate Sauce which reminded me of a peppermint patty in a glass. I enjoyed it. Sadly they do not sell the sauce separately because I wanted to try this with Silent Night and soy or almond milk. I like their Peppermint Leaves teas but I love the Silent Night more so I did not get this set.
Following up their Russian Caravan tea set with these two latte packs is a really neat idea. I enjoyed the tasting event and look forward to more now that they have their second tasting room open at 110 SE Washington Street in Portland, Oregon. And if any of these teas peak your curiosity, they can be found on the Smith Teamaker website here. There are other special teas for the holidays and also their regular teas. I have ordered a few boxes through the mail also and found their shipping times and prices for that are really good.